The attraction to beading is not just the seemingly infinite forms of beads available to use but also the fact that just about any object, once perforated, can be included in a beaded piece of art. While a button, for example, is not technically a bead - even though it contains holes to thread, it can theoretically become one, by incorporating it into the design of something like a necklace or a bracelet. Glass, crystal, wood, ceramics, silver, gold and plastic are all used in making different types of beads and the shapes of beads are even more numerous than the styles!
A quick glance of street life shows just how widespread beads are today. People from all walks of life accessorise using beads, and consequently, different types of beads are utilised to make each of these pieces of jewellery. A woman of a certain age, wearing a string of pearls, may think she has nothing in common with a teenage surfer wearing surfer beads but the very fact that they both wear beads, gives them a mutual interest. The difference is, each is influenced by the type of beads they wear and this says much about who they are, how they want to appear to others and what cultural influence has attracted them to the art of beading.
Most people have their own style. Some develop it, some develop one subconsciously but each of us is drawn to a look that inspires, excites and makes us feel comfortable, happy and even sexy. It’s part of who we are. Beading, like fashion, fine art and interior design offers us a huge variety of looks to choose from and an enormous chance to experiment within, or outside our own interpretation of chic. Beads can be made out of almost anything and put together in so many different ways; it’s often hard to choose one particular type over another! But what types of beads are available to beaders and which beads make what styles? Let’s take a look at just a few of the more popular beads around.
Of all beads, seed beads are some of the most prolific – and not just because they are small and more are needed to create a design. Usually made from glass, seed beads come in the full spectrum of the colour wheel and are utilised in both jewellery and other crafts. They include the smallest beads available and are measured on a reverse-scale of 15/0 – 6/0 (15 being the smallest). Many countries such as Japan, India, the Czech Republic and Iran, produce seed beads. They can be incorporated into any style design and are very versatile, although they require some patience when working with them because of their size!
Nothing sparkles like crystal, and crystal beads are perfect for creations where you want to make a dazzling impact. Crystal beads are perfect for formal occasions and can be worked into items such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They can also be sewn onto shoes, hand bags, clothing and other accessories. Because they contain roughly 30% lead, and have an impressive sparkle, they can also be used to make magnificent lamp shades.
Fibre optic (also called cat’s eye) beads are rather like the cat’s eyes we see on roads, as they work on the same principle and refract light. This gives them an attractive, shimmering effect. Fibre optic beads are made just like fibre optic cables, from fused quartz fibres and come in a variety of different shapes, colours and sizes. Again, because fibre optic beads play with light, they are great beads for making items that attract they eye.
Bali beads, as you might expect, come from Bali and are made from sterling silver. More often than not, they are intricately designed and most traditionally have an attractive, slightly dulled silver look, making them ideal for low-key, yet elegant pieces. They are also great for creating a warm, beach-y effect and look striking when combined with colours, such as turquoise. There are also Bali-style beads, cheaper quality beads which are often produced in India.
Pony beads were very popular in the 1800’s and still enjoy widespread use today. They acquired their name from the ponies used to deliver them within America. Originally made from glass, they are also available in plastic and come in hundreds of difference colours, shades, shapes and effects - including neon, frosted and metallic. They are very versatile and because they are much larger than seed beads, are an excellent choice of bead for those just starting beading and for children. That said, they are often incorporated into the most complex designs. Legend has it the New York island of Manhattan was bought from the Indians for twenty-four dollars worth of pony beads!
Undoubtedly, some of the most magnificent beads are Venetian and Murano glass beads from Italy. For hundreds of years, the island of Murano has been synonymous with fine glass beads (as well as other glassware) and one only has to look at examples of beads from the area to realise why – the shapes, colours, designs and production techniques of these beads are magnificent. Millefiori, ‘thousand flower’ beads are renowned throughout the world. One bead on its own is literally a masterpiece! The techniques used to make Murano beads were once so guarded, craftsmen lived under the threat of death should they ever divulge the methods!
Cloisonné beads, like Murano beads, are a work of art in themselves. Despite their name, Cloisonné beads originated in ancient Cyprus and the technique was later adopted during the Ming Dynasty in China. Today, these beads are immediately associated with China and featured in many of China’s Imperial Family jewels. One has to wonder how so much detail can be made on something so small! Each bead requires a number of construction techniques, including porcelain and metal and uses soldering, enamelling and firing processes. The results are intricate, colourful, yet delicate. Any piece of jewellery utilising these beads is bound to be breathtaking.
These are only some of the varieties of beads available to today’s beaders. However, given the 40,000 year history of beading, it is hardly surprising so many bead types exist. Not only does this variety give beaders a boundless opportunity to express their creativity but, as an art form, beading can literally cater to everyone’s tastes. So, whether you prefer a classical, bling, ethnic, surfer or even a gothic look, somewhere in the world there are beads waiting, with your name on them!
About the Author: Tracy Stillman is a freelance writer and the owner of Not Just Beadz, an online bead shop which provides quality beads and beading supplies at affordable prices. http://www.notjustbeadz.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/
Image courtesy of The Morgue File